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how to make family meals happen and a note to the nutritionists at grand rounds!

Posted by on May 6, 2010 in Blog Posts | 5 comments

Had a great time presenting to the pediatricians at Grand Rounds today on feeding dynamics and the current approach to childhood “obesity.” Great group, great questions. (I didn’t see anyone texting or sleeping, and since many were sleep-deprived residents, I’m pretty happy!)

I do want to mention that I shared some “horror stories” of bad advice clients have gotten from physicians and nutritionists, but I want to stress that there are many, many nutritionists and physicians who do wonderful work, who work within the feeding dynamics model. I was happy when a Children’s dietitian spoke up at the end to let her colleagues and physicians know they work in the model, and don’t just recommend organic mac-n-cheese as the solution to all your feeding concerns! I would say to the teams that take care of kids, know what models your team members work with. Get to know your nutritionists, read their evaluations. Send families to experts who support your message, not sabotage it.
A common theme that came up was the families they work with say they “can’t” or are too busy for family meals. Too many sports, activities, eating fast food in the car…
I just keep coming back to being firm about how important structure and family meals are, encouraging families to make it a priority. Family meals mean kids eat better, have stable weight, less disordered eating, less picky, eat more fruits and veggies, overall success in life, less drugs/alcohol/tobacco…
One of the awesome tech support guys told a fun story after the talk. His son’s girlfriend used to complain that the son’s family dinners cramped the young couple’s style, that she didn’t like making plans around family dinners. Now though, she seeks them out, joins in and enjoys them. Starting with family meals may be hard, kids might complain at first. Stick with it. It is that important. As the genteleman said, “Our family meals are where we have the best times, the best memories.” I would say it’s more important than being in a third activity. Help your kids prioritize.
Have any of you made a successful transition to family meals? How did you make it happen?
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  1. familyfeedingdynamics

    Thanks Kate. I like your approach. You are coming at this "learning to tune in to hungry and full" with curiosity and kindness. It takes some time, but with that attitude, I know you can succeed.It is a leap of faith! You can be trusted.
    I find that my timing is really important. If I wait too long to eat, that seems to throw the rest of the day off. I still have off days. usually if I'm presenting or working through my usual meal times. I then find that I do have to eat when I'm not really hungry to stave off a meltdown. So I might eat PB &J at 5 if I am working from 5:15-8 pm… We need to be kind, flexible, curious, open to learning from our experiences… It will never be perfect, but over time I find that paying attention and being really good about providing regular meals and snacks makes me feel so much better throughout the day. Good luck!

  2. Kate

    We do enjoy dinners more at the table. Eating at the table with the tv off is something we both kind of associate with dieting, so we haven't been doing it every night. We do it for sure if we are having something messy and a couple of times even without a messy dinner. We'll be up to doing it every night by the time we a child moves in. My non-breakfast eating husband has even committed to eating breakfast at the table in the mornings after a child moves in.

    We don't really miss the TV. I'm still not eating quite the right amount, some nights I think I'm full, but find myself hungry pretty quickly after dinner is over and some nights I think I've eaten just the right amount and end up too full. Just a little while ago, I wouldn't actually feel too full until several hours after eating, but by then of course it's too late to not eat so much. But recently that time gap has shrunk. It's still too late to remedy, but I see it as progress. As for the days I eat too little, I'm still not sure what to make of that, I don't know if it's diet programming kicking in or something else. I just keep telling myself that I can't change a lifetime of programming in just a few days or even a few weeks. I'm definitely putting a lot of faith in the system.

  3. familyfeedingdynamics

    Kate, Are you enjoying meals more? Is it changing your way of relating to the food? Enjoying it more? noticing it more? Eating more or less? Does it make you want to try more new foods or not? DO you miss the TV? Thanks! I'm glad you are getting into the habit of family meals! Singles are a family, couples without kids are a family. You take care of and love yourself, it's a little family of 1.

  4. Kate

    My husband and I tend to be couch eaters, but since we're hopefully going to have kids in the house in the near future, we have started having family dinners. They actually are pretty relaxing, in large part because our conversations aren't competing with the tv. As a child we had something resembling family dinners, but we always had the tv on. With DVRs, I'm not sure there's really a legitimate reason to keep the TV on, whatever you were watching will wait.

  5. cecile

    We try to eat together as often as possible (and we both grew up eating family meals, so it's probably easier for us). The only problem is that family means just me and the kids most of the time, Stefan comes home so late…